October 23, 2014

The Board and Wire Goes to Ireland: Part One

    So to share a bit of personal news 2014 was a big year for me.  Not only did I get married back in April (yay!), he and I got to go on honeymoon to western Ireland (double yay!).  Needless to say it was a trip we had been dreaming about for ages.  We stayed in the quirky, cobblestone paved city of Galway, in County Galway.  Which just so happens to be the birthplace of a dream of a cheese shop, Sheridan's Cheesemongers. Coincidence?  A bit.  I am not ashamed that part of my motivation to honeymoon in Europe was to eat all the fabulous, bloomy-rinded raw milk and Irish farm house cheeses that I could stuff in to my face.  Let me tell you, as you'll see in a later post, I succeeded in my mission.  But I digress.
     Sheridan's.  Packed virtually floor to ceiling with high quality, hand selected, and on occasion house-made cheese, cured meats, jam, chutney, bread, wine, veg, and crackers of all shapes.  Basically everything that makes specialty foods absolutely, well, special.  
    The Galway shop is tucked down a narrow lane that snuggles up to the church yard of the massive (and bejeweled with stained glass) Church of Ireland.  The building Sheridan's occupies is a big stone affair partitioned off into shops, and most likely older than the country I live in.  Its store front is wide and welcoming, trimmed with a deep dignified green and through large sunny windows peep the best of what Sheridan's Cheesemongers has to offer.  Being, cheese.
    I walked into Sheridan's with a mixture of church-like reverence and classic kid-in-a-candy-store exuberance.  My darling husband was on hand with the camera to catch that moment, natch.  As I think any Cheesemonger could understand, one of the best smells in the world is walking into a cheese shop.  That wonderful earthy, damp, pungent (yet clean) scent of several dozen well cared for cheeses occupying the same room just fills me with an almost embarrassing bubbly joy.  
    This is my element.  This is what I know.  This is what I love.  
    Once inside Sheridan's I apparently got tunnel vision when I spotted some long lost "friends" stacked neatly on the counter.  There they were, aged Mimolette and washed rind Morbier.  Just hanging out waiting to be cut to order for somebodies pre-dinner party nosh.  Just like they should be in the States, but alas, the FDA has different ideas about what cheese we should be eating.
    Carefully, slowly, I picked, squeezed, and sniffed my way across the huge mound of cheeses.  Marveling at how they are able to keep all but the freshest of cheeses out of the fridge case.  Also, notable was that all cheese is directly cut to order.  No piles of pre-cut pieces languishing in plastic wrap.  The selection of cheese available was impeccably curated.  The focus being on Irish cheese of all types, mixed with a good core selection of European offerings.  Not only could you find your Cashel Blue there but also your Parmigiano Reggiano or French Comte.  
    After more poking about and several good natured photos snapped by my husband I spotted my personal holy grail of cheese...but more on that next time.
*The photos inside Sheridan's Cheesemongers are all courtesy of Ian Hawkins
*All other photos are works of the author's